Manafest talks live record, The Chase and relationship with Trevor McNevan
by Reggie Edwards
Wrapping up 2011, Chris Greenwood, better known as Canadian Christian rapper Manafest had quite the year, playing Cornerstone’ main stage, heading out on the Awake and Alive Tour in support of Skillet and releasing his first live record, Live In Concert.
“It was one of those things where I was inspired by the Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison,” Manafest says, “I heard that and I’ve heard other live albums and I think it’s a really cool idea and I’ve always wanted to do it. Now I’m rolling with a band and we’re rebranding some stuff and I really wanted people to see what my show is now with a band as opposed to just me with a DJ or something like that in the past.
“We’re gonna do lots more than that. We’re gonna do one live in Japan, one live probably in England and just keep doing them because I think it’s a cool experience, and do it different each time.”
Not long before his live record, Manafest released The Chase, his first to be exclusively rock.
“That album is the first record I did that was an all-rock record. It was produced by my buddy Adam Messinger who produces Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, JoJo and a lot of pop artists but he’s got a real good sound for rock as well with hooks and songwriting.
“So I collaborated with him and really we’ve been working together since 2001, and just put a smash together and the response from “No Plan B” and “Avalanche” and “Every Time You Run” has just been awesome.”
Many of Manafest’s songs are deep, talking about real-life problems and issues, which give his fans something they can really connect to.
“Part of it is and part of it isn’t [based on my life], I kinda mix coming in and out, so there’s pieces that are real, like going to church when I was a kid and my mom dragging me there and the different impacts it had on my life, you know you reflect on those things sometimes.
“Personally the drugs and other stuff I was discussing in the song, like drinking and stuff, not so much. I always like to just put it out there, knowing from the stories and things I hear and I experience when I meet kids and I like to put it out there cuz I know people are dealing with junk.”
One of the closest working relationships Manafest has is in Thousand Foot Krutch frontman Trevor McNevan, who has been working with Manafest since the beginning.
“Since 2005 or 2006 with Epiphany, “Skills” was the first song we did together,” Manafest says. “We’re gonna do a little bit of writing together for this next record but he’s actually not gonna be featuring. I’m singing a lot more now and I want to switch it up a little bit, you don’t want to keep doing the same thing all the time but we’re great friends and we’ll always work together.
“Just like whether it’s a painter or a dancer, as a musician you’re trying to find your style and what works for you and what connects and I’ve always been connected to rock. I listened to rock my whole life, I listened to hip hop, I listened to punk, I listened to country, a bunch of stuff and when I originally got into music I was hanging out with guys who were MC’s, they were rapper, so obviously the people you hang out with are gonna influence you. That’s why the direction of hip hop was there originally and I just had to find my style and I found that in rock I can express myself easier.
“It’s been a process and it’s been great and I feel like I’m really finding my thing now. Now I’m singing a lot more and learning and tryin’ to hit those notes baby.”